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Anesth Analg. 2002 Feb;94(2):302-9, table of contents.

Transesophageal echocardiography interpretation: a comparative analysis between cardiac anesthesiologists and primary echocardiographers.

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Department of Anesthesiology, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina 27710, USA.


Diagnostic interpretation of intraoperative transesophageal echocardiography (TEE) examinations may vary, particularly when the echocardiographer is also the anesthesiologist. We therefore evaluated the concordance of TEE interpretation as part of a process of continuous quality improvement (CQI). Ten cardiac anesthesiologists participating in a CQI program conducted 154 comprehensive TEE examinations, each consisting of 16 major fields describing cardiac anatomy and function. These examinations were subsequently interpreted off-line by two primary echocardiographers (a radiologist and a cardiologist). Agreement was assessed using the kappa coefficient and percent agreement. Overall kappa and percent agreement were 0.58 and 83% for anesthesiologists versus radiologist, 0.57 and 80% for anesthesiologists versus cardiologist, and 0.60 and 82% for radiologist versus cardiologist. Anesthesiologists with longer than 5 yr of TEE experience had higher levels of agreement with the radiologist when assessing the aorta, right atrium, pulmonary vein flow, transmitral flow, and fractional area change. Cardiac anesthesiologists supported by a CQI program interpret TEE examinations at a level comparable with physicians whose primary practice is echocardiography. Thus, the anesthesiologist and the intraoperative echocardiographer need not be mutually exclusive.


Interpretation of intraoperative transesophageal echocardiograms can be reliably performed by cardiac anesthesiologists.

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